By Ibsaa Guutama
At this point in history restoring the Ethiopian empire is out of question. Negotiation has to start for a New Union based on the will of all nations and nationalities. To decide on their destiny is exclusive right of each of them. Only their independence, federation or confederation could bring peace and harmony to the region.
In the last five decades of struggle the Oromo had come nearer to getting their questions answered indirectly. However, the empire restorers are still in denial of Oromo having different demands from the Habashaa. They still accuse the OLF of being divisive and trouble maker. The concept of unity the Oromo believe in and theirs is different. Though objective of Oromo struggle is for independence of Oromiyaa, they have shown the willingness to accept unity based on equality, freedom and sovereignty of Oromo over Oromiyaa. That is why they accepted federalism and the provision in the Ethiopian constitution for right of nations to national self-determination.
But on the contrary, they still entertain the concept of unity they inherited from their forefathers. That unity was accepting Habashaa way of life, their political and social tradition and their racial superiority. In other words, putting one’s freedom and identity into Habashaa straight jacket. When they forbade every people not to use its own language, religion, culture and tried to brainwash them to follow their dictates, they thought they would succeed to create a homogenous society in their own image. That utterly failed with peoples’ liberation struggle. But they are keeping on denying its failure. They, for instance are condemning the federal system majority accepted as ethnic federalism. Nations and nationalities could be single ethnic or multiethnic group.
Nothing is wrong with ethnic federalism as long as it is what an ethnic group is in agreement with. But the implication given by Nafxanyaa system hopefuls is what bothers many. OLF is a messenger carrying Oromo aspirations but those with nostalgia for the past are accusing it even for hiccup of their infants. OLF or not the Oromo national question can never go away however long it may take unless it is properly addressed. Instead of wasting time and energy on fruitless discourses around meeting halls in the empire, for restoration of imperial glory to old Ethiopia, it would be better for the region if they start tackling the real problem, Oromo sovereignty over Oromiyaa.
Now a situation almost similar to last days of Rhodesia is taking place. After British colonial administration ended, their Nafxanyaa led by Ian Smith rebelled and declared UDI in 1965 refusing to transfer power to its legitimate owners, the native Zimbabweans. They did not realize that the moon of Cecil Rhodes has waned. Freedom means removing interfering wrong doings and turning back justice to status quo ante. The Zimbabweans were kind enough in allowing the white settlers to remain and develop the country with the natives. Whatever lose they may incur was to be compensated by Britain. Those that did not bear the humiliation of living as equals with former slaves packed and went away. Many remained to live as Zimbabweans.
In Oromiyaa there is no problem of land because Darg had settled it in 1974. The Nafxanyaa was disowned with all others then. Only the mentality of Nafxanyism is creating problem at present. The Amaaraa at home has at least de jure got “a country they call ours” like Oromiyaa did in 1995 when federal system was formed. It has its own state known as “Amaaraa Killil”. The governance still remained uncertain because Tigrean power continued to rule by proxy through ANDM. ANDM was originally formed from Amaaraa, Oromo and war captives of the South as “EPDM” when TPLF wanted to cross into Amaaraa speaking areas.
From the ribs of EPDM, OPDO was created to help it cross into Oromo areas. All together formed a pseudo coalition, the EPRDF. Up until then all in “EPDM” were comrades in arms. No wander if OPDO, ANDM and organizations of the South have nostalgia for the EPDM days? Now ANDM has become ADP and OPDO, ODP. They have both earlier fought to liberate Ethiopia from Darg’s tyrannical rule and later with that of TPLF. Both were Ethiopianists at heart. There is nothing wrong if they still remain the same unless they want all to conform to their belief. The Amaaraa that have opted to live in harmony with nations and nationalities they were born into and lived with, by sharing their sorrows and joys, far away from the motherland have no problem, for they have made themselves part of those peoples. There are also those that denied themselves a country and remained suspended, many of them live in Finfinnee and abroad.
Those are ones that could not accept unity with equality and freedom and are creating problems because they did not realize that Minilik’s moon is waning. They have unilaterally declared themselves “Care takers of Finfinnee”, land of the Oromo, defying the legally established government of Dr. Abiy, like Ian Smith did to Rhodesia. Some groups in Homeland Amaara are taking up the cry despite having enough problem at home. These “Care takers” also promote revival of monarchy. Their heroes are those down from Teedros to Haayila Sillaasee minus Yohaannis and Iyyaasuu. They have forgotten that many lives were lost, even lives of their elders in some cases to get rid of them. It is a simple insult to the memory of the heroes and heroines that freed us from those man eaters.
The Oromo are patient and tolerant but not quitters. Any neo-Nafxanyaa cacophony cannot stop them from getting what they wanted. Amaaraa at home have two choices about descendant of its army of occupation and later settlers in the occupied territories; One is accepting them to settle back home by arranging for them easy passage. Second option is stop claiming them and let them live where they found themselves for as human beings, they have the right to choose their abode. Many like the Oromo have tradition of protecting aliens residing among them as long as they respect their laws and practices. Any nation or nationalities that wants to live with the other in equality dignity and freedom has to recognize the sovereignty of each other on own land and also respect rights and mutual interests of all.
Oromo are determined to maintain sovereignty over their beloved Oromiyaa and there is no reason to doubt that they will remain committed to the cause that millions were sacrificed for. For now, all of us from abroad and the mountains have accepted the call of Dr. Abiy’s government and came home to support the change and struggle in peace. Let us keep the covenant that way for our own advantage until the transition ends. EPRDF came with violence; let us not get in line with those that are pushing it to end in the same way, hating one not for performance but for who one is. Oromiyaan haa jiraattu.